What Do Babies Need to Thrive? Changing Interpretations of ‘Hospitalism’ in an International Context, 1900-1945

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    Abstract

    In 1945, the émigré psychoanalyst René Spitz published a landmark article in which he suggested that babies cared for in institutions commonly suffered from ‘hospitalism’ and failed to thrive. According to Spitz this was the case because such babies were deprived of ‘maternal care, maternal stimulation, and maternal love.’ Historical interest in separation research and the development of the concept of maternal deprivation has tended to focus on the 1940s and 50s. The term ‘hospitalism’, however, was coined at the end of the nineteenth century and by 1945 the question of whether or not babies could be cared for in institutions had already been debated for a number of decades by an international community of paediatricians and developmental psychologists, later joined by psychoanalysts. Criss-crossing national boundaries and exploring debates over the nature, causes, and prevention of ‘hospitalism’, this article elucidates the changing understandings of the impact on babies of living in institutions.

    © 2018, Oxford University Press. The attached document (embargoed until 05/02/2020) is an author produced version of a paper, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)799-818
    JournalSocial History of Medicine
    Volume32
    Issue number4
    Early online date5 Feb 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2018

    Keywords

    • hospitalism, infant homes, paediatrics, child psychology, psychoanalysis

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